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Greenville seeking to avoid homecoming distractions

The Greenville Tigers are off to their first 0-2 start since the 2008 season.

Fortunately, the Tigers were able to reverse their fortune eight years ago by winning seven of their next eight games, making a playoff bid in the process.

Greenville head football coach Josh McLendon is looking to duplicate that reversal of fortune.  The first step for McLendon is addressing the root of the Tigers’ misfortune this season—turnovers.

Poorly-timed turnovers proved fatal in the Tigers’ first region game versus Charles Henderson Friday.

“Execution overall will be a focal point at practice this week,” McLendon said.

“I felt like we played fine; we moved the ball and had some production on offense.  We just had some costly turnovers at times in the game, and you just can’t win when you do that.  No matter if you’re on the road or at home, you don’t deserve to win if you turn the ball over.”

Greenville’s otherwise solid performance Friday night compounds the frustration of a winless season thus far, though McLendon added that the key to righting the ship lay in realizing that success doesn’t come overnight.

“You just can’t give in,” McLendon said. “You’ve just got to have the mentality of ‘look, we played two football games that haven’t worked out like we wanted them to, but that doesn’t mean you just throw in the towel right now.’ Every day is a grind and a chance to get better, and you’ve got to attack each day with the opportunity that’s presented. And we felt like we got better Friday night.  It just didn’t produce the results that we wanted.

“So you can’t tuck your tail—you’ve got to go back to work, keep doing the same things you’ve been doing and just do them a little better.  That’s our mentality, and that’s going to continue to be our mentality.”

This week’s hurdle on the path to a state championship is the Rehobeth Rebels, who sit at 2-2 including a 28-13 win over area opponent Headland and a 36-0 loss to Booker T. Washington.

The Rebels travel to Greenville in search of their second area win and first win on the road, though they’ll face a hostile homecoming crowd in the Camellia city.

“It’s homecoming, so I expect a big crowd. I always hope the home crowd is a factor, but we’ve got to give them a reason to be a factor,” McLendon said. “We’ve got to do our part, and hopefully they’ll do their part also.”

Homecoming also serves as a double-edged sword for the Tigers—a weapon whose sharpness McLendon said his team can’t afford to feel.

“You just hope the kids make the right decision.  We can’t afford to have any distraction and we can’t afford to lose anybody because of something dumb or some kind of extracurricular activities. We just can’t afford to have that happen.  We’ve got to stay locked in because every game counts.  We’re in region play.  We’re still trying to get that first victory, and that’s all we should be worried about.”